The thought of passing on a legacy of faith from generation to generation sounds great, but where does a parent begin? As a starting point, try thinking about the spiritual, relational, physical, emotional, and mental characteristics of your life. Then, ask yourself what kind of legacy do you want to leave with your children in these five areas of life? Following, you’ll find some goals you might want to pursue. As you review them, feel free to add more specific practical ideas of your own.
• Spiritual: To love and obey God, teach integrity, value involvement in a church, grow in faith, learn and live by the Bible, develop a biblical worldview, be a disciple of Christ, serve others.
• Relational: Times of fun and laughter, family bonding vacation times, recreation times together, ability to resolve conflict with family member, listening skills, how to treat the opposite sex, developing lasting friendships, investing in the lives of others.
• Physical: Eat healthy foods, manage stress, exercise, financial integrity and stewardship, cleanliness and health issues, how to work hard, how to budget your financial resources.
• Emotional: Build healthy friendships, find times of rest and replenishment, build confidence and a healthy self-image, build trust and unconditional love, develop character traits such as discipline, perseverance, courage, and purity.
• Mental: Read good books, learn new skills, write and discuss ideas, discover how to think critically, become skilled at planning, learn decision-making skills.
These are good starting points for identifying what you want to teach your children. However, try hard not to overwhelm them or be overwhelmed yourself. Something is better than nothing, and those who don’t aim at anything won’t find their way.
The great philosopher Soren Kierkegaard told a story about ducks that came from an imaginary country where only ducks live. One Sunday morning, all the mother and father ducks headed to church with their children waddling behind them. They entered the doors and sat in their duck pews, sang songs from their duck hymnals, and gave to underprivileged ducks at the offering time. When the duck preacher got up to proclaim the message, he was very dynamic. He opened his duck Bible and screamed, “Ducks, you can fly! You have wings and you can fly like eagles.” The ducks all chanted, “We can fly, we can fly!” He asked, “Do you believe you can fly?” Again, they shouted back, “We can fly, we can fly.” He screamed again, “We can soar through the skies!” They all shouted, “Amen.” With that the pastor closed his duck Bible and dismissed his congregation of ducks. Then they all waddled back home.
Remember that your words are important, but they can only go so far. So much of the work of passing on a legacy of faith takes place when we model it ourselves and believe in our children. To do that, we must make sure that we as parents are working on these same issues within our own lives. It will take a plan, intentionality, and help from above. But I believe you can lead the way for your children and make a generation difference for lifetimes to come.